The Kepler Track is a 60km alpine loop and one of New Zealand’s 10 Great Walks. It is located near the mountain town of Te Anau on New Zealand’s South Island.
Lindsay and I were travelling for a few more days before I was due to work in Golden Bay as a kayak guide. We were keen to at least summit Mount Luxmore, and then have a look at the rest of the trail. Based on what the park rangers were telling us, we would need crampons, ice-axes, and heavy boots…we had running shoes, but we decided to have a look regardless!
We left Te Anau late in the day and arrive at the lodge as it was getting dark. We did have just enough time to check out the caves, which I would recommend. We had pre-payed for the huts [We were luck – we payed $15NZ per person as we were a few days before season, when rates would have been $75 per person for non NZ residents!] and cooked up some yummy NZ dehydrated food and went off to sleep.
NZ huts – even the expensive ones – consist of large bunks where you sleep side-by-side with your neighbours. In the middle of the night, a rumble woke us. What I assured Lindsay as a large person rolling over, was in fact our first NZ earthquake!
The next morning, we trudged through the snow to the summit of Mount Luxmore. Grand 360-degree views greeted us from the summit of the surrounding Fjordlands and it was awesome to be blessed with such a rare clear day so early in the summer season.
The track became trickier after the summit. We had to drop in elevation to avoid a small avalanche path, and after a few disapproving glances from other hikers, we ducked quickly behind the corner and continued on the mostly snow free track.
The track continued with some sections covered in waist-deep snow and others snow free. We ended up breaking trail for about 10 others that would complete the trail that day. One section of the ridge was essentially a slippery knife-edge and we both wished we had an axe, but felt fairly comfortable.
The excitement was over as soon as it began though, and we dropped out of the snow and back into the lush forest. The bird life in New Zealand is insane, and the remote valleys that the Kepler Track traverses are teeming with life. We reached the next large lodge and dropped our things, setting out to find a waterfall.
The last day of the hike was a struggle – we had only packed food for two days and ended up doing nearly 35 kilometres with a few pieces of salami and granola bars! In Te Anau we had a very disappointing burger, but all in all, the Kepler Track was definitely one of the better treks we did in New Zealand!